Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, says we should celebrate the same-sex weddings taking place this weekend, as well as looking ahead to the work that still needs to be done.
Firstly, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of the couples getting married on this historic day.
In Brighton and Hove, Andrew Wale and Neil Allard were winners of a Council competition to hold their marriage ceremony at one minute past midnight in the majestic Music Room in Brighton’s iconic Pavilion. I am sure that they will be the first of many couples to tie the knot in the city.
Andrew has said that he feels lucky to live in a tolerant city like Brighton and Hove and that, as the wedding day drew closer, he became even more aware of the benefits of living in a comparatively tolerant part of the world.
Of course, there is a large gulf between tolerance and equality – and true equality is something that I have campaigned for throughout my political career. Like many, Andrew, Neil and the other couples getting married today had to wait a long time for the law to catch up with the mood of the nation.
So whilst there is huge cause for celebration – for all those tying the knot and because of how far we have travelled – it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what more is needed to transform tolerance into equality.
I’ve long been active in the campaign for same sex marriage legislation – and I am also an advocate of genuine equality through civil partnerships being available to opposite sex couples.
When the Same Sex Marriage Bill came to Parliament, I tabled amendments to give same sex couples the same pension rights as opposite sex couples and to right the wrong inflicted on trans people who were forced to annul their marriages in order to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate, under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act, 2004.
We still urgently need Government action against those who promote and provide so called gay ‘cures’ and I’ve called for a ban on conversion therapies for under 18s I have also spoken out against homophobic chanting at football matches, discussing this with Brighton and Hove Albion and lending active support to community initiatives and those from the FA to tackle the problem.
As we toast the first same sex marriages in our city, let’s also look to a future where full LGBT rights are realised. I want to thank all of those who have campaigned so hard for what’s a historic occasion. I know many of you will not rest until there is true equality for everyone and, as the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, I will be with you every step of the way as that journey continues.
Caroline Lucas is the MP for Brighton Pavilion.